In / Spectre – 22 – Squirrel Lion

During a brief recess when Goichi’s heirs get some air, Kurou lies down, but doesn’t get to rest long as a frisky Kotoko pounces on him with the full force of her 90-ish pounds (which is to say, not much). It’s another fun reminder of how close they’ve become, and it’s also a prime opportunity for Kotoko to confer with Kurou on her progress baiting the heirs into admitting their murder plans, which adequately prepares them for the false solution she’s prepared.

Of the three “contestants”, she believes Rion will be the first one to come upon that conclusion, as early as that night, and that proves to be exactly the case. While Susumu and Koya were successfully baited, the genuinely innocent Rion was also given everything she needed to craft a solution. A phone call with her dad is the catalyst that helps Rion organize and connect the clues swimming in her mind.

Missing from the meeting’s revelations is the true nature of Otonashi Sumi’s motivations. She wasn’t simply a tyrant bent on success at any cost, but was herself a puppet of her father Denjiro’s machinations. Denjirou laid out an intricately detailed plan, Sumi carried it out, and it resulted in the company’s success. Under that kind of pressure, it was virtually impossible for Sumi to disobey Denjirou even after he passed, even if she knew his plans were fracturing her family and eventually even the company.

That’s when Rion remembers how Kotoko phrased it—success sometimes harms people and leads them to their own destruction—and eureka, she has the solution: Sumi committed suicide. Trapped between her family’s happiness and the success of her company on one side an Denjiro’s orders on the other, Sumi took herself out of the equation.

Rion even surmises that Sumi made it look like a murder knowing her family had alibis to avoid harming the brand or their reputations. Kotoko looks happy with Rion’s answer—not necessarily because it’s the correct one, but because it’s the one she wanted Rion to come upon. Kotoko even softens the tension between them by saying her name is cute and brave, like a squirrel and a lion.

I like how that led to Susumu saying if Rion were a boy she’d be named Reo, since his big bro loved lions. It’s enough to suggest that amends between the brothers is possible. When the time comes to deliver the group’s answer to Goichi, Rion is the one to present it. Not only does Goichi accept it, and accept the even distribution of the inheritance, but laments that he didn’t do something like this sooner.

To do so would have saved his children undue guilt. While Susumu, Koya, and Kaoruko feel they’ve sinned, Goichi points out that there’s a very wide space between wishing to kill someone—and even holding a knife to someone’s neck—and actually going through with it. In doing his part to manipulate Sumi into commiting suicide, he believes himself the sole culprit in her death, and plans to pay for it by foregoing medication and dying a painful miserable death.

In this way, Goichi hopes to powerfully impress upon his heirs the lesson that one should never expect success as a result of murdering someone. The cost may have came late for him, but it will come all the same. That would wrap things up, except that Kotoko isn’t done. She rejects Rion’s theory of suicide, and provides valid reasons why.

The most important of these reasons is simply that making a suicide look like a murder carried far too much unnecessary risk and complexity. Engineering an accidental death, on the other hand, would have precluded the need for any alibis and prevented any police investigation.

Also, Goichi can claim he’ll pay for his crime, but the fact his family was protected by this solution means he doesn’t regret the choice he made or the success it led to. No, Otonahi Sumi didn’t commit suicide, she was murdered, and next week Kotoko will reveal the identity of the true killer. The question is, will that really be the fox ayakashi, or still someone else?

Saving 80,000 Gold in Another World – 10 – Shift in Priorities

While we saw goblins on the march last week, things start out far more casually this week, as Mitsuha attends a cookout back on Earth held by the military contractor Wolf Fang. She brings a brace of antlered rabbits which are a big hit, but I had a feeling their presene would cause trouble once somebody snapped a photo.

The trouble doesn’t have anything to do with cross-world contamination, but a war swiftly brewing in the isekai. The king asks Mitsuha to take Princess Sabine to a neighboring country for her protection, but Mitsuha refuses, as doing so would expose her general store to the imminent invasion. Instead, she considers taking Sabine to Earth where she’ll be safe for sure.

When Mitsuha returns to the palace, a full-on war council is in progress, and her old friend Alexis von Bozes is in attendance on behalf of his father. When a herald attempts to assassinate the marquis in charge of the defense, Mitsuha dives into the line of fire, but so does Alexis. She gets a bolt to the arm, but he gets one in the shoulder and one in the gut.

That escalated quickly! Suddenly this is a show not about how much fun Mitsuha has making friends and earning retirement gold, but keeping herself and those friends and allies safe from an increasingly volatile situation. She transports Alexis to Wolf Fang, who has a surgeon on staff who fixes them up.

Then she asks the Captain if he’ll agree to a job defending a kingdom in another world. When the Captain bristles at what sounds like nonsense, Mitsuha tries to run him over with his own Humvee. When he opens the door to protest, she transports the two of them and the truck to the isekai.

There, she and the Captain see that the situation has already deteriorated, and a wagon train of refugees are at risk of being slaughtered by goblins. She pays the Captain a gold coin on the spot, and they work to protect the wagons as they try to cross a flooded river.

They find that the goblins don’t go down easily, so I imagine they’ll need to headshot and/or blow them up to cease their advance. Needless to say, they’re going to need reinforcements from Earth.

This will cost Mitsuha dearly; likely all the money she’s saved up from her store and consultations. Maybe the king will reimburse her. But either way, funding her cozy retirement is no longer her top priority. The lands and people she’s come to care about are in danger, so no expense will be spared in helping them out. I look forward to the effort.

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